Spanish Pathways in Floridaby Ann L. Henderson and Gary R. Morino, editors

Book Review by Conchita Márquez Lucero

This book is certainly worth reading and I feel is fairly written. It reviews the history of the Spanish settlements in Florida. It is presented both in English and Spanish and contains short essays. “If historians in the past have devoted too little attention to the epidemic plagues that obliterated native Indians, surely the Spanish have suffered from too many accusations of misdeed and atrocities. Sixteenth-century Spain produced a heroic civilization, but its successes and achievement bore bitter historical fruit.”

They authors acknowledge that the “Black Legend persists, but just as damaging is the continuing neglect of Spanish contributions in the history textbooks. The National Geographic lamented in 1988 that the sixteenth century deserves the label “the forgotten century.”

Amy Turner wrote about Tomás Menéndez Márquez “. In American lore, cattlemen and cowboys are invariably Westerners. But one of the earliest and largest of North American cattle ranches was in Florida.” The La Chua ranch owned by Marquez ranged from St. Johns River westward to the marshes of the Gulf and from the lakes of George northward to the Santa Fé River.” “Over a third of Florida cattle and horses in the late seventeenth century wore the band of La Chua.”

We forget that Florida held the earliest and largest chain of Christian missions at approximately 100 sites. According to John H. Hann, Florida could boast of having friars of the stature of California’s Junípero Serra. He also states that Natives soon began to request priests. One Friar Hann felt was exemplary was Juan de Paiva.

Kathleen A. Deagan wrote about FortMose (MOH- SAY). Its full name was Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, and itwas the first free Black community, established in 1738. She goes on to explain “in order to understand the circumstances and significance of the establishment of Mose, we must go back some 250 years earlier and examine the Spanish attitudes toward nonwhite peoples—especially slaves—that evolved after Columbus claimed the New Word for Spain.

In Spanish lands, slavery was governed by the “Siete Partidas del Rey Don Alfonso El Sabio.” Based on the Code of Justinian, a body of Roman law dating from the sixth century, it was incorporated into Spanish Law in the thirteenth century by Alfonso X.The “Siete Partidas” held that slavery was against natural law, for God had created all people free. Slavery originated in an accident of war, when victors enslaved rather than killed the vanquish enemies. Slavery was therefore not a natural or preordained condition for anyone regardless of race, and because of this, Spanish slaves had specific legal rights and protections. These included the right to hold and transfer property, the right to sue in the courts, to buy their freedom, to take legal recourse against cruel masters, and to be protected from the separation of family members.

Catholic theology, which recognized the sanctity of the family and the brotherhood in Christ of all men, slave and free, also influenced the circumstances of Spanish-held slaves. Masters regularly served as godparents and marriage sponsors for their slaves; in this way the church sanctioned kinship ties (like in-laws relationships) between slave and master. Catholic doctrine also led to a flexible attitude toward emancipation.This information can be found on page 190.

This book is worthy of purchase and reading ISBN 1-56164-004-2, I paid $18.95 at the

Fort Castillo de San Marcos gift shop in San Augustine, Florida.